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Natural Products Expo kicks off Friday -- a whirlwind of oats and berries

March 10, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • The annual Natural Products Expo opens Friday in Anaheim.
The annual Natural Products Expo opens Friday in Anaheim. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles…)

Natural products will be at the center of the universe Friday when the Natural Products Expo kicks off at the Anaheim Convention Center. Fish-oil capsules, walnut body scrubs, wheat-grass beverages, organic pizza and about 5,000 new energy bars and energy drinks will be on display. (OK, the part about the energy bars and drinks is a bit of an exaggeration.)

Regardless, natural products are a big business. Nutrition sales topped $110 billion in the United States in 2009, a growth of $10 billion from 2008. This during a recession.

The expo, expected to draw about 56,000 visitors from Friday through Monday, allows manufacturers to showcase their new products while scientific and business meetings are conducted on industry issues. The hot topic this year will be the recently issued federal food guidelines, especially the advice on lowering salt in the diet. There's also a huge push to make baby and toddler food more healthy. The natural foods industry has also been a leader in the green movement. Many manufacturers emphasize environmentally friendly production processes and packaging.

I will blog and tweet from the expo Friday as I traverse the conference floor sampling organic blueberry energy bars, acai-and-wheat-germ beverages, whole-grain pasta and organic raisin muffins. Check Booster Shots or LATShariRoan on Twitter for updates.

Related: New dietary guidelines released amid 'crisis' of obesity and diet-related diseases

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